The former president of the United States, Richard Nixon, resigned from office on Thursday August 8. 1974 following a scandal that uncovered that he and his advisors schemed and carried out a break in at the Watergate complex (an apartment building) where several records concerning the presidentail campaign were held. They were also charged with acts such as tampering with confidential records, illegal tax audits, and creating an illegal fund that was used as bribery to keep individuals quiet. Finally, they were charged with covering up the break in and several taped recordings mounted overwhelming evidence that Nixon was indeed a conspirator.
Needless to say, these events transpiring shocked not only the United States, but the entire world. They were, to no surprise, highly publicized and covered in the news especially the New York Times and the Washington Post, as well as all television news outlets. What was probably the most shocking factor to the American people within the whole saga, was when Nixon actually resigned from office after recieving enormous pressure from the public and others. He was the first and so far the only president to resign from office.
A Washington Post article written by Carroll Kilpatrick documented Nixon's resignation speech. She was critical of Nixon (casually at best) addressing his role in the Watergate scandal. She wrote, "While the President acknowledged that some of his judgments "were wrong," he made no confession of the "high crimes and misdemeanors" with which the House Judiciary Committee charged him in its bill of impeachment.
Specifically, he did not refer to Judiciary Committee charges that in the cover-up of Watergate crimes he misused government agencies such as the FBI, the Central Intelligence Agency and the Internal Revenue Service.
Several articles had specualted before the actual resignation that Nixon would resign rather than face the long-lasting stigma of being an impeached president. According to a New York Times article written by John Herbers on August 8, 1974, "Sources say Nixon's speechwriting staff has been asked to prepare materials for resignation speech. Nixon reptdly asked those around him who had recommended that he stay in office to draft memos outlining reasons for their beliefs. State Sec H A Kissinger meets with Nixon. Goldwater says he and Scott told Nixon that he could count on no more than 15 votes for acquittal if he was tried by Sen. Scott says they told Nixon that situation was 'gloomy'."
Many of the reporters gave reference to Special Prosecutor Leon Jaworski in their stories, who said that Nixon was not urged to quit by the FBI and that he carried it out on his on account.
This story, although on a much larger scale, in my opinion resembles the controversy surrounding the 2000 Presidential election Florida vote recount involving George Bush and Al Gore, which went to the Supreme court. Like Watergate, this event was centered around a presidential campaign and the media took to it heavily. Had Bush lost, this particular news event would have been have even larger news value.
- Al Scott